The Listening Program Can Improve the Lives of your Child and Family
An outline of the program and its benefits
For those who have a reliable sense of hearing, sound is likely something that is taken for granted most moments of each day. Sound is all around us, whether or not we pause long enough to recognize its impact. It evokes a wide-ranging spectrum of emotions, creating in us a sense of calm, wonder, melancholy, angst, loneliness, longing, anger, stress, fear, hope, delight and ecstasy, to name a small portion.
Those doubting the power that sound holds over us should think of these: a loved one’s laughter (joy); multiple emergency vehicle sirens (anxiety); your favorite song (happiness); children arguing… AGAIN (exasperation); ocean waves (peace); a thunderstorm (fear or tranquilty); and a newborn baby’s cry (from the womb: relief; in the wee hours of the night for a new parent: stress). The possibilities of sounds and subsequent feelings for each individual are endless.
Now imagine if the typical sounds of each moment of each day created a sense of dissent that interrupted your thoughts, feelings and actions in a way that negatively impacted the way you live. This is a position that many children and parents are currently in. They observe their child, typically one with sensory impairments and/or a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, to have a notable negative reaction towards sounds that otherwise do not phase most other children. To their young one, the sound of mom or dad vacuuming the living room rug is torture, as is the sound of a hand dryer at a restaurant or a hair dryer as mom runs through her typical morning routine. The child’s resulting aversive reactions often create havoc in a family’s day-to-day living and restrict their participation in events that would typically be considered fun and memorable—think birthday parties, parades, visits with Santa, firework displays, visits to the theater, and more.
For those with sensory impairments, auditory hypersensitivity is often the culprit behind their over-reactions to sounds. It is probable, in many cases, that the individual experiences hypersensitivity in other senses as well, such as in taste, smell, touch, movement and/or visual stimulation. Ironically, it is possible for these same individuals to simultaneously experience hyposensitivity to various sensory input, exhibiting less-than-typical sensitivity to stimuli in their environment.
Further research has indicated that for children who have difficulty tolerating various sounds, the auditory system itself may not be the underlying issue; rather, connections between the auditory system and the emotional system cause the child to have oversensitivity to certain sounds and a resulting negative emotional response when hearing them* (Lucker, & Doman, 2019).
The Listening Program (TLP), by Advanced Brain Technologies, is a listening program that has demonstrated notable improvements in children with auditory sensitivity. TLP uses acoustically modified music and sounds to help improve listening in children and improve their emotional reaction to sound. Carefully chosen and curated instrumental music plays through air and bone conduction headphones as the child passively listens in 15 minute increments, typically 1-2 times per day in their home, clinic and/or school setting. Spectrum, one of TLP’s listening programs, is described as “a highly specialized program developed as the primary listening training for people with sensory sensitivities” and its protocol outlines that it should be followed for at least two cycles (50 hours) and up to found (100 hours) total.
Parents of children who participate consistently and appropriately in their TLP regime often note the first improvement in their child’s level of functioning as being calmer. Over the course of training, children also tend to demonstrate increased attentiveness to the sounds they hear, often leading to improved verbal communication. Through the use of calming, low-frequency sounds, the TLP reduces the “fight or flight” response that children with sensory issues often have towards sound, resulting in improved emotional response.